Local government entities—including cities, counties, school districts, and townships—spent a total of $8.3 million on lobbying activities last year, according to the 2011 Local Government Lobbying Services Report, which was released Monday by Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto.

Spending on lobbying services in 2011 increased $54,817, or 0.7 percent, compared to 2010.

A total of 82 local governments—up from 77 in 2010—directly employed lobbyists or hired contract lobbyists in 2011, according to the report. They collectively spent just under $4 million on the lobbyists, up 1.5 percent from 2010.

Of the 82 local governments, 11 spent more than $100,000 on lobbying—and together accounted for about $2 million, or half of the total expenditures, on contract or staff lobbyists.

The City of Minneapolis spent $467,139 in 2011, the most of any local government in the state. It was followed by Hennepin County ($246,214), the Metropolitan Airports Commission ($172,105), Anoka County ($170,320), the City of St. Paul ($161,098), Ramsey County ($148,375), Dakota County ($130,670), the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board ($127,527), the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission ($120,338), Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency ($106,383), and the Counties Transit Improvement Board ($103,720).

In addition to the $4 million spent on contract or staff lobbyists, local governments paid more than $10 million in dues to a variety of associations for lobbying and other services. (That $10 million isn’t included in the $8.3 million total, as a portion of those funds paid for services other than lobbying.)

Twenty-six such associations, in turn, spent $4.3 million on lobbying for government entities in 2011, down 0.1 percent from the prior year. The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities spent $822,239, the most of any association. It was followed by the League of Minnesota Cities ($608,965), the Minnesota School Boards Association ($606,961), the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, Inc. ($280,981), and the Association of Minnesota Counties ($262,696).

Among the lobbying firms, law firms, or staff members that received money for lobbying services, St. Paul-based Flaherty & Hood, P.A., received the most: $772,076. Minneapolis-based Messerli & Kramer received $397,701, the second-highest amount, and was followed by Minneapolis-based McGrann, Shea, Anderson, Carnival, Straughn & Lamb, Chartered, which received $256,000.

Click here to download the full 2011 Local Government Lobbying Services Report.

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